I inherited a 3/8" square notched trowel and a 3/16" v-notched trowel.

  • Which is the correct for laying down a coat of thin-set prior to attaching 6" x 24" tile to a wall?

  • When is the correct time to use either trowel?

  • It sounds like you're asking 3 different questions. – Tester101 Mar 25 '14 at 14:04

You can use either. If your walls are perfectly flat and the tile is too then 1/4 will be fine.

What would I normally do with 6x24? I would use a 1/4" trowel but backbutter all of the pieces. The tiles need to be pushed firmly in place too. My main concern with this type of tile is the bowing in the middle.

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  • +1 for the comment about bowing; I hadn't considered it. It seems like back-buttering would always be the easiest way tot tile. Is there a reason the people don't always back-butter tile? – virtualxtc Mar 26 '14 at 14:52
  • Because it is one extra step and also brings in an added element to the height of the tile. If you use almost no thinset and squeeze it good (what bad tilers do) the finish job is easy and it is really flat - obviously this tile will have major problems over time but their check has cashed. The more thinset involved more chance to mess up height... just take your time. – DMoore Mar 29 '14 at 0:05
  • NO not a 1/4 inch trowel...NEVER! Use a 1/2 x 1/2. A 3/8 trowel is good for an 12x12 or smaller tile, your v- notch is good for smaller backsplash tiles. – user35287 Apr 4 '15 at 12:45
  • @Stevo - Please read my answer. I am suggesting back buttering. You would not use a 1/2" trowel after back buttering - way too much thinset. You are correct if there is no back buttering. – DMoore Apr 4 '15 at 18:57

Most tile manufacturers will have a specific trowel recommendation for their tile. It may not be either of the ones you own. In that case you'll buy another one. In any case, it is normally clearly stated in the installation instructions for the tile. The size and shape of the notches affects both the total amount of thinset (so a 3/8 X 3/8 X 3/8 notched trowel lays down an amount of thinset that would be 3/16" thick if flattened completely) and the way that the ridged thinset interacts with the tile as it is placed (V's have a bit more give than square-notches as the tile is embedded.)

Read and follow the tile manufacturer's installation instructions.

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  • @Tester101 - why don't we just post RTFM for every question? Almost every question on the site can be answered that way. Really poor logic for this site. – DMoore Mar 25 '14 at 16:50
  • @DMoore Why is it poor logic? The manufacturer takes the time to write the documentation, to tell you how to use their product. Why wouldn't you take advantage of that knowledge? – Tester101 Mar 25 '14 at 17:09
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    @DMoore I haven't bought tile that often, but any time I have, trowel and mortar recommendations were on the box (if I recall correctly). – Tester101 Mar 25 '14 at 17:38
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    -1 (and flagging) for RTFM per stack exchange guidelines – virtualxtc Mar 26 '14 at 15:02
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    @virtualxtc Reading the manual is an important part of DIY, as different manufacturers recommend different things. While users on StackOverflow may not enjoy reading manuals, we here at DIY.StackExchange very much enjoy cuddling up by a warm fire with a good technical document. – Tester101 Mar 26 '14 at 15:56

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